In Full Bloom/満開の桜の下で

Well, yes. I had to write a piece about Cherry Blossoms. Get over it.


So it was 2014. My Japanese mother-in-law was visiting Cebu for the first time and we were in a taxi on the way to the hotel. Looking around the dusty streets of the city I proudly call home, she passingly quips, “Not a lot of flowers in Cebu.” I was well aware that she was not being rude or anything. She is a very nice woman who never misses a chance to smile. It was not even a question. It was an observation, that’s all. But without missing a beat, I quickly snapped “There are!” Somebody really ought to tape my mouth in times like this. Because when I took a peek outside which, to nobody’s surprise, was really sans any flora, I had to repeat “There are!.. just … not here.” Yes, mine is a stubbornness that does not falter even in the face of in-laws.

あれは2014年のことだった。義理のお母さんが初めて日本からセブにやってきて、私たちはホテルへ向かうタクシーの中にいた。私が誇る私の生まれ育った街の埃っぽい道を彼女は見渡すと、辛辣なコトを一言。。『セブには花が全然ないのねぇ。』 彼女が私を嫌な気持ちにさせようとしているわけではないことはよくわかってた。彼女は決して笑顔を絶やさない、とても素敵な女性なのだ。それは質問ですらなかった。ただの所見、それだけだ。私は即座に嚙みついた。『花、あります!』 こういう時は、誰かに私の口をテープでふさいでもらう必要がある。だって私が自分の目で車の外を見ても、花の神様なんていなかったのだから。でも、私は『あります!・・ここじゃない・・だけで』と繰り返した。私はただの意地っ張り。たとえ義親の前でもひるまない……。

Caption: And I wasn’t lying! Here’s my adorable nephew in an out-of-the-way flower farm in Cebu. 私が嘘付いてたわけじゃない。これは私のかわいい甥っ子がセブの人里離れたお花畑にいるところ。

Granted, heart-stopping visions of green and carmine hues are few and have to be scoured in my city. But it always puzzled me how that could possibly be somebody’s first observation of Cebu…

…until I was left stunned by the feast of colors that springtime ushers.


In 2015, I walked the Sakura Street of Osaka and the grounds of the lovely Osaka castle which was graced by rich tints other than the famed Cherry Blossoms. As soon as I saw the parade of colors that lined the streets, my heart went full throttle and my eyes burst wide with amazement. I was too intoxicated with excitement I actually had to pretend to act all calm and said “まあまあかな〜” That’s just how my bloated ego deals with being flabbergasted.


Believe me when I say that I’ve been waiting for spring since arriving in Tokyo in the dead of winter. Much to my husband’s gloom, I had this year’s entire Hanami all planned out since January – complete with routes to take, schedules to follow and daily (oh yes, daily!) updates of the Sakura forecast. I’m usually an inside, away-from-the-crowd kind of person and I initially thought that the whole tarp-laying, barbecue-munching, sun-basking routine of Hanami was overrated. I mean, I’m here for the flowers. Just let me watch them and move on.

But Hanami comes with beer. I just had to do it. There’s nothing more motivating than a pint of that sweet drink.

生気のない冬に東京に着いた時から、私はひたすら春を待ち続けた。そしてまだ1月のうちから、夫がげんなりするくらい入念に花見の計画を立てた 〜 順路、スケジュール、そして毎日の(そう、毎日の!)桜開花予想に至るまで。私は一人で室内にいるのが好きなタイプだから、ピクニックシートを敷いて日に当たり、バーベキューに口をモグモグする花見は過大評価され過ぎって感じてた。私はただ花を愛でるためにここにいるんだって。ただ花を見させて、って。

Home now after a day of Sakura viewing, I realize that I was wrong (I don’t say this often so believe me when I do). Hanami is not at all overrated. Hanami is not an overvalued tradition stretched beyond its time. Between nibbles of karaage and gulps of beer, I really do not remember much of the day except the laughs, the good time and the arresting shade of pink perfectly framed by the blue spring sky – and that is more than enough to make me believe in its spell.

I am now in the middle of planning to next year’s session so tell me if you want in. Wait, sorry, I’ve had a bit of a drink … did I mention it comes with beer?

花見を終えた今、私が間違ってたってことがよくわかる。(私はこんなことなかなか言わないから、言った時には信じてね)花見は過大評価なんてされていなかった。大げさな伝統行事なでもない。から揚げに噛りついてビールをごくごくと飲んだ。この日のことを私はあまりよく覚えていない 〜 笑っていたこと、良い時間を過ごしたこと、そしてピンクのフレームに縁取られた春の青い空を除いては。そしてそれは、私にお花見の魔法を信じさせるのには十分すぎるほどだった。


この記事を書いた Jill Ueda先生は Brighture のカリキュラムを松井博と共同開発したトップティーチャーです。

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